Aaron Walker, whose complaint against convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin became a conservative cause célèbre this past week, was reportedly taken into custody today after a court hearing in Rockville, Maryland.
One person who attended the hearing in Montgomery County District Court said that Kimberlin asserted that Walker’s continued blogging represented a violation of a “peace order” Kimberlin had obtained against the Virginia attorney, who says Kimberlin tried to “frame” him for assault earlier this year.
During the course of the hearing — which reportedly lasted about an hour — Judge C.J. Vaughey appeared to become increasingly hostile toward Walker, who was taken into custody when the hearing concluded.
Walker has since been released, but please make sure to read Stacy’s full post for the short version on what happened today, and on how one of Kimberlin’s chief targets – Walker (the true victim) – had the tables turned on him in court and eventually was arrested (why? more here). Doesn’t sound like Aaron did himself any favors with the judge, but the judge himself, who admittedly didn’t know much about the Internet, was probably the last judge a Kimberlin victim would want hearing his or her case – especially since much of it revolves around cyber-stalking/threats — Anonymous-style.
Kimberlin, a convicted domestic terrorist, is shamelessly abusing the legal system in an attempt to silence truthful critics in what law blogger Popehat appropriately calls “lawfare”:
3. Aaron’s arrest illustrates how well lawfare can work and how dangerous unprincipled rubber-stamping of protective orders can be. Imagine it: you write something about a dispute. Someone involved in that dispute goes to court in another state and accuses you of harassment and gets a “peace order” against you. That person claims that your writing is threatening, that it has led to threats, or that it constitutes persistent harassment. If you are very lucky, the judge denies the application because it is too vague, or because it seems to complain about protected speech — but if you are unlucky, the judge rubber-stamps it without even demanding to see the allegedly offending posts. (Note that here Kimberlin characterized Aaron’s posts, rather than submitting them all.) Now you’ve got a vague order against you forbidding you from contacting or harassing the “victim.” But what does that mean? Surely, you tell yourself, under a century of America’s First Amendment heritage, it doesn’t mean I can’t write a blog post discussing the dispute and explaining why the peace order application is made by a convicted perjurer and notorious domestic terrorist. Well — maybe. Or maybe not. Again, it depends upon your luck with the judge. Here, based at least on initial reports, it appears that the court construed Aaron’s blog as a violation of the peace order. I’ve read all of Aaron’s posts on the subject, and none satisfy any principled or constitutional definition of unlawful harassment. None of them incited lawless behavior. If, as reports indicate, the judge jailed Aaron based on those posts, the judge did so lawlessly because Aaron violated a vague and ambiguous prior restraint on protected speech.
4. Kimberlin’s success in this regard will embolden other practitioners of lawfare, and allow them to chill and deter speech they don’t like. Consider Aaron’s dilemma upon being informed of the new and overtly bogus peace order: was he to cease speaking on an issue of public interest regarding a public figure, or was he to spend money on a lawyer to try to get the order lifted? Now imagine lawfare practitioners demanding such protective orders in multiple jurisdictions far from the writer. Imagine the costs and legal risks, and ask yourself how many people will be willing to incur them.
It’s insane. But it’s the world we live in. And while Popehat, like Walker and Patterico, have encouraged people to not be partisan about this issue because it can impact all speech both left and right, and because liberals have also been targets of Kimberlin, I find it hard not to inject partisanship in this considering the tactics Kimberlin and his allies are using have all the hallmarks of radical Occupy/Anonymous cyberterrorism/intimidation which they, of course support and are affiliated with. Nothing comparable exists on the right. Nothing.
Unfortunately this is going to get worse before it (hopefully) gets better. If you haven’t already, please donate to show your support of Walker, Patterico, Liberty_Chick, and others who continue to be harassed by way of “lawfare” by associates of Brett Kimberlin. This issue is too critical to our free speech rights to allow to fall by the wayside.